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China’s Utility-Scale Solar Growth Surpassed Residential Additions in 2023

China’s utility-scale solar system additions last year exceeded the amount of residential solar capacity added, for the first time in three years.

Utility-scale additions reached 120 GW in 2023, which compared with 96.3 GW of residential solar growth, Bloomberg reported, citing figures from China’s National Energy Administration.

In 2021 and 2022, residential solar was the fastest-growing segment of the market in China, the report noted, adding that this trend was driven by the saturation of utility-scale installations in densely populated regions.

Last year, the focus of utility-scale developers was on sparsely populated areas, notably deserts in inland China. This shift of focus was encouraged by the central government of the country, which pressed for continued strong growth in solar.

Bloomberg quoted the China Photovoltaic Industry Association as expecting new installations of 220 GW this year. Last year, the country’s total solar installed capacity topped 609 GW, with new additions at 216.88 GW.

In November last year, Rystad Energy forecasted that China’s solar capacity would hit 1 terawatt by 2026, after topping 500 GW in 2023. With the 2023 projection beaten, the 1 TW number might come earlier than projected by the consultancy, too.

China’s current capacity in solar power generation represents approximately 40% of the global total, according to Rystad Energy. The United States comes second, with some 12% of the total, representing 145 GW. Solar in the U.S. is seen expanding rapidly in the coming years thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, with the energy consultancy predicting that total capacity will be about 209 GW in 2026, or around 11% of the global total.

Wood Mackenzie, meanwhile, forecasts that China will remain the dominant power in the global solar market over the next three years, both as an investor in the technology and as a developer and marketer of solar.

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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